The feeling when Siena announced the hiring of Jimmy Patsos last spring was that it wouldn’t be long before the former Loyola (Md.) head coach turned the program around. In his first season at the helm Patsos led the Saints to an 11-9 record in MAAC play, 20 wins overall and the CBI championship.
As a result the school announced Wednesday that Patsos has been rewarded with an extension through the 2018-19 season. The deal adds a year to his original contract, and according to the school the financial terms (which weren’t released) will not change.
“The turnaround of our team both in terms of on-court success and talent level happened much more quickly than we thought it would,” vice president and director of athletics John D’Argenio said. “That is a testament to coach Patsos’ ability to recruit quality student athletes and teach and motivate young men to realize their potential. We decided at the end of the season to add one more year to Jimmy’s current contract.”
Siena improved its win total by 12 games in 2013-14, and given the amount of talent returning for the 2014-15 campaign there’s optimism regarding the Saints’ chances of continuing their climb up the MAAC standings. Siena’s top five scorers from last year’s team will return, led by guard Rob Poole (14.6 ppg, 5.0 rpg) and forward Brett Bisping (11.5, 6.5).
Last year’s team also featured two MAAC All-Rookie Team selections in guard Marquis Wright and wing Lavon Long, with this being the first time that Siena has placed two players on that particular squad. Both Wright and Long return as well for a team that will have three seniors (Poole, guard Evan Hymes and forward Imoh Silas) and two scholarship juniors (Bisping and forward Ryan Oliver) in 2014-15.
Throughout Tom Izzo’s tenure at Michigan State the team’s half-court man-to-man defense has been a staple, and the Spartans have generally proven difficult to have a high rate of offensive success against. The reliance on that defense is why Izzo’s conversations earlier this summer about using some token full-court pressure due to the shortening of the shot clock caught some people off-guard.
According to the Detroit Free Press there’s another wrinkle the Spartans may use, and it’s likely that this wrinkle will show up more often than the full-court press. During Friday’s opening practice the Spartans worked on a 2-3 zone, and Izzo wants his assistants to make sure the team works on the defense consistently throughout the season.
That’s also why zone in general isn’t going to get heavy play at MSU, but having it as a tool could be beneficial — especially in games with touch fouls on the perimeter called in droves.
“I told (my assistant coaches): ‘You hold me accountable to working on it every day some’ … I have a tendency to drift off on that, and I don’t want to drift off on it,” Izzo said of the 2-3 zone. “But we will be, rest assured, a 90-some percent man-to-man team still and hopefully take some of those principles to zone.”
As noted in the story one of the risks in using pressure is allowing quality shots, which is why it’s unlikely that Michigan State will go to it. But even with Izzo vowing that his team will work on the zone, that doesn’t mean they’ll be playing it as often as Syracuse does.
Man-to-man has been Michigan State’s staple and it will continue to be. But it doesn’t hurt to look for other ways to keep opponents from getting the looks they want, especially if teams have five fewer seconds to find those shots.
When the college basketball rules committee made the decision to trim the shot clock down to 30 second from 35, one reason for the switch was the desire to improve offensive production. With offensive numbers at their lowest point in years, proponents of the move see the shot clock change as a necessary move if scoring is to improve.
Whether or not that winds up being the case will be seen throughout the upcoming season, but teams are still having to make adjustments during the preseason.
Virginia, which has played at a snail’s pace (and with great success, mind you) in recent years, made some adjustments to their summer work in anticipation of playing with a 30-second shot clock. One adjustment was more games of 3-on-3 with a 15-second shot clock, which forced all involved to be more decisive in their offensive decision-making.
While the pack-line defense will always be a staple of Tony Bennett’s teams, the feeling in Charlottesville is that they’ve got the offensive firepower needed to both play faster and be more efficient offensively than they were in 2014-15 (29th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy). One of the players who will lead the way is senior guard Malcolm Brogdon, who led the team in scoring and was a first team All-ACC selection, and he discussed the team’s outlook with Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
And even though Anderson’s highlight-reel shot blocking was the thing that frequently fueled fast-breaks for U.Va. last season, Brogdon and [Anthony] Gill said they expect this year’s team to actually push the tempo even more.
“I think we’re going to be a team that gets out and runs more,” Brogdon said. “I think we’ll have three guards on the floor, most of the time, will be able to handle the ball as a point guard and get out in transition. I think we’ll play a lot faster.”
Brogdon and Gill are two of the team’s three returning starters with point guard London Perrantes being the other, and the Cavaliers also return most of their reserves from last year’s rotation. That experience will help them on both ends of the floor as they prepare for a run at a third straight ACC regular season title. And in theory it also allows them to extend themselves a bit more offensively than they did a season ago.